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Sustainable Land Management (SLM) in Ethiopia

Ethiopia, with 1.13 million sq km area coverage, is characterised by considerable diversification in bio-physical environment, cultural and ethnic composition. Its lowest and highest elevation points vary from the Kobat Sink of Danakil depression that falling 125 meters below sea level to the Ras Dashen Mountain that raises 4,620 meters above sea level. Along this range, different physiographic feature: massive highlands, rugged mountains, flat topped plateaus and deep gorges are evident. The highlands and rugged massive mountains make Ethiopia’s central part but divided by the Great Rift Valley and surrounded by lowlands. The difference in landforms has resulted in different micro-climate, which, in turn come up in creating diversified ecosystems. This difference in micro-climate has given for the variation in soil properties, vegetation cover, water and other natural resources types. Successively, this has influenced historical and current settlement patterns of Ethiopians.


Based on altitude and temperature difference in Ethiopia there are five broadly known climatic zones. Namely: Wurch, Dega, Weyna dega, Kola and Berha that are equivalent to  cold, temperate, warm, hot and arid, hot and hyper arid climates respectively. Equally, for the rainfall amount they received these climatic zones farther subdivided in to wet (receive over1400mm/year), moist (receive between 900-1400mm/year) and Dry (receive below 900 mm/year).

According to Ethiopian strategic investment framework (ESIF) for sustainable land management (SLM) Ethiopia’s population is close to 79 million inhabitants. Of which 85% live in rural areas and primarily depend on utilising their local land resources to meet basic needs.

Ethiopia’s economy heavily depends on agriculture for it serves the main driver of economic growth. Smallholder farmers (backbone of the agricultural sector) produce 90-95% of the country’s cereals, pulses and oilseeds. However, agricultural performance has been failing to keep pace up with population growth. Thence, Ethiopia has been forced to importer food grains. Land degradation plays major determinant role declining agricultural productivity. Studies show that Ethiopia annually encores a cost that worth 2-3% of its GDP due to land degradation. According to ESIF by the mid 1980s some 27 million ha or almost 50% of the highland area was considered to be significantly eroded, of this 14 million ha was seriously eroded and over 2 million ha beyond reclamation. Current estimations show that some 30,000 ha are lost annually due to soil erosion. Similarly, Soil erosion is the most visible sign of land degradation and around 1.5 billion tons of soil is removed annually for various erosion processes. However, variety of other degradation processes are at work too but the soil erosion problems cannot be tackled without recognising and addressing, these underlying degradation processes.


Land resources are critical for economic and social development of the country. Thus, there is an urgent need to reverse the current serious levels of land degradation through promoting and scaling up successful Sustainable Land Management (SLM) technologies and approaches. Under ESIF umbrella several projects and programmes are implemented in Ethiopia to combat degradation at sustainable manner. Therefore this knowledge base SLM website is an electronic conveyer for all SLM technologies, approaches and best practices. Brief description and detailed articles or a link to these Projects and Programmes that work on SLM in the country are also listed out in the right hand pan of this page.  


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